Date of Award
Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (MS)
College, School or Department Name
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
In Panama, one of the Environmental Health (EH) Sector’s primary goals is to improve the health of rural Panamanians by helping them to adopt behaviors and practices that improve access to and use of sanitation systems. In complying with this goal, the EH sector has used participatory development models to improve hygiene and increase access to latrines through volunteer managed latrine construction projects. Unfortunately, there is little understanding of the long term sustainability of these interventions after the volunteers have completed their service. With the Peace Corps adapting their Monitoring, Reporting, and Evaluation procedures, it is appropriate to evaluate the sustainability of sanitation interventions offering recommendations for the adaptions of the EH training program, project management, and evaluation procedures.
Recognizing the need for evaluation of past latrine projects, the author performed a post project assessment of 19 pit latrine projects using participatory analysis methodologies. First, the author reviewed volunteers’ perspectives of pit latrine projects in a survey. Then, for comparison, the author performed a survey of latrine projects using a benchmarking scoring system to rate solid waste management, drainage, latrine siting, latrine condition, and hygiene.
It was observed that the Sanitation WASH matrix created by the author was an effective tool for evaluating the efficacy of sanitation interventions. Overall more than 75%, of latrines constructed were in use. However, there were some areas where improvements could be made for both latrine construction and health and hygiene. The latrines scored poorly on the indicators related to the privacy structure and seat covers. Interestingly those are the two items least likely to be included in project subsidies. Furthermore, scores for hygiene-related indicators were low; particularly those related to hand washing and cleanliness of the kitchen, indicating potential for improvement in hygiene education.
Based on these outcomes, the EH sector should consider including subsidies and standardized designs for privacy structures and seat covers for latrines. In addition, the universal adoption of contracts and/or deposits for project beneficiaries is expected to improve the completion of latrines. In order to address the low scores in the health and hygiene indicators, the EH sector should adapt volunteer training, in addition to standardizing health and hygiene intervention procedures. In doing so, the sector should mimic the Community Health Club model that has shown success in improving health and hygiene indicators, as well as use a training session plan format similar to those in the Water Committee Seminar manual. Finally, the sector should have an experienced volunteer dedicated to program oversight and post-project monitoring and evaluation.
Midkiff, Jacob B., "POST-PROJECT ASSESSMENT OF PIT LATRINES IN RURAL PANAMA", Master's report, Michigan Technological University, 2013.